NEW YORK, NY, USA - Top seed Serena Williams showed no signs of the right shoulder injury that plagued her summer hardcourt season, facing down a seasoned opponent with ease in the first round of the US Open, defeating two-time Grand Slam semifinalist Ekaterina Makarova, 6-3, 6-3.
"I definitely think it's fair to label it a home court," the World No.1 said of Arthur Ashe Stadium during her on-court interview. "I love coming out here for this New York crowd and playing for you guys. It's super special here. I love it here, and I love you guys."
Serena last faced Makarova two years ago at this very tournament, though under very different circumstances as the two battled for a spot in the final. A right lower leg injury caused Makarova's ranking to drop, but the Russian veteran has shown signs of the form that got her all the way to No.8 in the world - particularly in doubles, where she and partner Elena Vesnina won the Olympic tennis event.
"I got off to a fast start, because I knew she was a really tough opponent. I didn't want to start off slow, and so I tried to get some momentum. That's all I could do today."
The Serena shoulder/serve is looking good tonight. She's fired 10 aces, topped out at 121mph. Brought her A-game vs. Makarova.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) August 31, 2016
For her part, the American had been dealing with injury concerns of her own, forced to pull out of theRogers Cup and Western & Southern Open, and was playing just her fourth match since winning her 22nd Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. Looking good on serve, winning 90% of points behind her first serve, Serena was cautiously optimistic that her best form was yet to come over the next two weeks.
"I'm going to have to wait until tomorrow to see; I haven't been able to play much since Wimbledon, but I was just happy to make it out here. Every day from here on out, I'll see how it goes."
Off to a sparkling start: Behind 12 aces, #Serena defeats #Makarova, 6-3, 6-3 to start her #usopencampaign. https://t.co/qI9T2IjpxQ
Playing compatriot and wildcard Vania King for a spot in the third round, the World No.1 enjoyed a strong start to her US Open campaign; a win here would not only earn her a record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam title - surpassing Stefanie Graf - but guarantee that she would surpass Graf's record for most consecutive weeks atop the WTA rankings.
"I just think every time I step out on this court is so memorable; winning back in 1999 was something I'll never forget because I always dreamed of winning out here on this court. Every time I step out here is just super special.
"The new court is really amazing. I love the roof, and that if there's a rain delay, we'll have the opportunity to play. It's exciting, and we're doing great things out here."
-wtatennis12 aces.1 DF67% 1st serves in.0 break points faced27 winners22 UFEHit a 121mph serve.